The Eto Rangers ride in Space-Time Transmitting Machine Kirinda to repair the Novel Worlds of Mugen. The Eto Rangers themselves are anthropomorphic animals, each representing one of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals (and The Twelve Branches in Buddhism). In Japan they are known as the Eto animals. The Novel Worlds are stories created by the human imagination, such as old folk tales as well as newer books. These living worlds play out repeatedly, and are necessary for the good of humanity. Princess Aura rules Mugen, which is an island continent hanging over an ocean from the skybound Novel Pole. The Great God Goal gives her power, but she may never leave the small palace island area. Their nemesis is the forgotten Spirit of Cats, Nyanma (real name, Chocolat), who was excluded from the choice of 12 protectors by being disqualified from the race (in actual legend there are many versions of this story). She seeks her revenge by distorting Novel Worlds with Jarei Monsters.
When a Jarei Monster goes to a Novel World they alter the story, turning it into a different version, sometimes a parody of itself. Bakumaru, the Spirit of Mice, must use the Genmakyou mirror to reveal ("Jarei Shouran!") the evil spirit once enough clues lead to its identity. Often the Eto Rangers must play out some of the story to find out who or what it is, sometimes even taking on the role of one of the characters in the tale. After defeating the creature, Kirinda is called when Bakumaru holds up his hand with one of Aura's 12 gems on it and calls out "Daikourin Kirinda!" Kirinda descends from a dimensional slit and purifies the evil spirit with a beam weapon, calling out "Jouka!" (Purification).
"The 12 animal rangers" is one of the best show for kids with a very unique story within an exotic world of fairy tales.
The world Nobel is made of countless mini-worlds of fairy tales created by humankind. The evil who plans to destroy this world from within sends minions into each fairy world under disguise of the world's characters. Each episode, the Mouse and a select few among the rest are chosen to be sent into a different fairy tale on the Unicorn (Kirin) Ship to blow the disguise of these minions.
As summarized, the story is very creative and attractive to kids since
it explores a lot of fairy tales with "improvisation" due to distortions by the evil minions.
In this story, that the Cat is made the evil general utilize the fact that Cat is excluded from the 12 Lunar animals in Japan and most Eastern countries. In the Chinese legend, the Cat finished too late to win the race for any place in the calendar and vowed to be the enemy of the rat forever.
Each animal has a special attack and special weapon, the Mouse a laser saber.
They are also gender balanced and have little romance happening among them or with characters in the fairy tales, which makes this story more enjoyable.
Even as show mainly geared toward kids, the last episodes are particular dramatic when most animal rangers sacrificed their lives in pursuit of the evil force, making way for Mouse to confront the evil mastermind behind the Cat. The ending relies on a miracle when all deceased animals were revived but it was enjoyable, and acceptable to kids shows of this kind.
The art is decent regarding the time this was made. The animation is repeating especially during special attacks but they are not too often.
OP and ED are particularly memorable.
The 12 animals get relatively equal coverage but, as a show for kids, there's no deep personalities. However, they did a very good job in showing friendship and cooperating spirit.
As a twenty-something now after 15 years I still find this very enjoyable, absolutely.